Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Life For Rent

These days I'm fervently hoping to move out of my rather squalid living situation as a reluctant paying guest (paying in many diverse and cruel ways) to a rented flat where I will live alone and be happy. The move is tantalizingly close and so I figured I'd take you through a retrospective of the various horrors who have masqueraded as my landlords and landladies and have lent themselves to vilification and some slapstick on my blog. Retribution was long due.

There was the family of losers that I lived with in my first year in Delhi. The father was terminally unemployed and habitually shrill. The mother was gloomy as a matter of principle. The children were a couple of snobs (although I never really figured out what propelled them to indulge themselves so). One of my roomies was a habitual thief who figured that I wouldn't notice if she scamped on my toiletries. All of them, all the time. She also didn't believe in bathing too much, so I don't know what she did with the stolen toiletries. The family's idea of fine cuisine was large chunks of ginger in anything and everything. Their monthly pastime was fighting with any one of the girls living there and threatening to throw her out in the middle of the night. They were so pathetic, they made me grateful for myself everyday. I suppose one always manages to find a silver lining, no matter what. I had to look really hard for it.

Then came the young family who rented a floor in their house to my sister and me. They were nice enough, very helpful and equally weird. They had a two year old son who looked like an angel and swore like a truck driver. His linguistic blasphemies would begin every time someone failed to give him what he wanted. I woke up on many a morning to hear him call his father a whatnot, his mother a wouldyoubelieveit and his sister a don'tevengetmestarted. So yes, deeply individualistic people.

After that, I moved into a hostel in JNU. My first roomie (who lasted a year) can be described thus: acne, body odour, shady affairs. She was obsessed with the acne on her face and spent hours examining it with a sort of horrid fascination. She spent a small fortune on all kinds of ridiculous and always disappointing treatments. She also conducted a series of affairs with men she met online (one of whom was married) and always seemed to think it necessary to share the gory details with me. She left in the second year because she hadn't really reckoned with the Need To Study Sometimes. My next roomie was really nice and we had a wonderful year together, so I shall leave her out of this uncomplimentary post.

Then I moved to Bombay, where everything bad was exaggerated in true Bollywood fashion. The first tyrant looked like a really obese warden of a Kafkaesque mental asylum. She cooked curries out of only onions, mixed in water whenever extras were needed and charged money for every little transgression like leaving the bathroom lights on. I got out of there in a month, only to land up with Cronos herself.

She's seventy-five, avaricious like you wouldn't believe, and three times stronger than I am. She thinks that half a bed and a cupboard are all you need to live, and that one should cough up five grand a month without a murmur for these extravagances. She made me spray insecticide and kerosene all over my bed, so she has most certainly taken valuable years off my life span. And she has made me resent enforced vegetarianism with a vengeance. I can't wait to get out and I hope the bed bugs teach her a lesson about the need for professional pest control. I also hope she stops talking incessantly about the flaws in the other roomies when I'm studiously trying to ignore her. I hope the time comes soon when I can look back and laugh really (and even unnecessarily) hard at her.

The rant is over, for now. Pray I don't have occasion to repeat it.

17 comments:

all that matters... said...

I distinctly remember those chunks of ginger ad yes, I also remember that I-look-like-an-angel-and-talk-like-the-devil kid... And, I miss those times...

Dreamcatcher said...

A menagerie.

Perakath said...

Nice post... I especially liked the 'habitually shrill' line...

probe said...

If you write posts this good when i keep you waiting, i'll do it all the time.
Ah, we shall find a 'happy home' soon, for you shall have the worst roomie in 4 years time :)

arunabh said...

"The father was terminally unemployed and habitually shrill. The mother was gloomy as a matter of principle. The children were a couple of snobs". Isn't this so very true of most landlords in Delhi? Was this north Delhi in particular?
Now that i am about to leave the comfortable environs of hostel life and start fending for myself, i shall also have to look for a flat to rent. And i haven't heard too highly about landlords at Pune (yes, thats where i am moving:( ). But since, we will be an all-guys-family, i hope we won't be sharing our flat with some weird family of the type you described. After all, landlords always ensure that they keep their children(daughters in particular) as far away from a group of guys (regardless of how docile/disinterested the guys might be) as possible :D

heh? ok said...

@ all that matters
i'm coming there in a week's time. we'll catch up then :)

@ dc
that, actually, is a nice title for the book i should write about all the very weird people who surround me.

@ perakath
thankee. you would've liked it even more if you'd met its subject.

@ probe
you're actually a nice roomie, fun and considerate. but you're also restless like hell. ah, we'll have some memorable fights.

@ arunabh
men always have it easy. grrrr.

raghu said...

enzzzzooooy!

Psychochan said...

came back to ur blog after a while... and what do i see! similar woes... in delhi tho! and i concentrated more on the excruciating process! but glad u found a pad... big deal in bby... goody!

Divya said...

2 year old who looked like an angel and swore like a truck driver?? Hahahaha! ok you have had some wierd roommantes too...

speedpost said...

I pray you do. So that we have such entertaining posts to look forward to...

"I woke up on many a morning to hear him call his father a whatnot, his mother a wouldyoubelieveit and his sister a don'tevengetmestarted"

Classic....

Sim said...

hugs!!!!! and all the best for the future!

Preeti Sharma said...

This was a riot - really funny without having to try too hard.

All the best with the move :-)

new age scheherazade said...

aww..but you know what? isn't it nice to know they won't be including you if they ever write a post like this?
but your sense of humour does save you every time, right?

Doubletake, Doublethink. said...

ouch.
you actually made me glad i'm going to be here at home for another three years through college, which is such a sore point now that i needed this post.

The no-(no non-sense) guy... said...

classic post
been living for a month in delhi now for a useless internship... and will be here for another 20 days. studied the people, and it aint hard to guess where the kid learned his swear words from.
keep writing

the guy who typed this. said...

hmm, I'm here at bangalore, stuck with Woman Hitler herself( not so surprisingly, thats an anagram for mother-in-law)...
Lovely post, I hope I only have to hear the tales of such amusing (to me) landlords and landladies and not have to deal with them... the prospect of being thrown on the streets when I laugh at their proclivity for eccentric ways to irritate tenants is indeed scary :P

heh? ok said...

stupid comp ate up my reply. anyway...

@ raghu
shoo.

@ psychochan
i've just about started looking. brrr.

@ divya
which is why i've developed such appreciation for the nuanced vagaries of humanity.

@ speedpost
somehow, i'll risk boring posts for a good landlord. call me contrary :)

@ sim
:) :D

@ preeti
thank you. i didn't have to try too hard, the characters wrote themselves :)

@ new age scheherazade
my sense of humour and radio in a phone.

@ doubletake, doublethink
trust me and don't leave till they actually haul you out and deposit you on the porch.

@ the (in short) only nonsense guy
first month in delhi's a dog. but oh, the food....

@ the guy who typed that
oh they won't throw you out. they'll dream up increases in electricity tariffs and increase your rent :)